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Can seller refuse to sign docs at the closing?

Palm Coast, FL |

I am buying a short sale house in Florida. The seller and bank accepted my offer.
I fullfilled all my requirements at the closing the title company informed me that the seller was refusing to sign closing docs because he wanted a letter from back absolving him of the additional money he owed the bank. This was the first I heard of this. Can he do this and what are my options?

Attorney Answers 3


  1. Your option would be to sue for specific performance. But the problem is forcing the bank to release their lien.

    It sounds like the real estate contract might have some errors. Normally, a short sale would be contingent on the lender accetping less than it was owed to release the lien.

    But there might have been no language in your contract between you and the seller & lender stating that if the seller was not released from further liability, he/she could walk away with no penalty.

    Unfortunately this sounds like you have been "wronged" but how do you collect from someone who is apparently having financial difficulties.

    And it is going to be impossible to force the lender to release the seller form all laibility. I am amazed the bank accepted the short sale at all. They are few and far between and usually take many, many months to get an answer.


  2. You should look over your contract to see what the contingency regarding approval of the short sale was. Did it say that the contract was contingent on the Seller receiving approval of his bank of the short sale? Was it any more detailed than that?

    It may well be that the approval was not a full approval. Without that, and with the contract contingent on an approval, you probably have no recourse.

    This answer does not constitute legal advice and does not and is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship. The law may vary depending on the state in which you reside. It is intended only to give some direction in which to seek assistance.


  3. I am assuming that your contract involves Florida real estate. I am only licensed in Florida.

    The contract will determine most of your rights. Because of all the complications involved with short sales, there can be a huge variation in the contracts. Some contracts do a good job of protecting the buyer, while others are totally one sided and protect the seller. It is possible that the contract has a provision that the seller does not have to close if certain conditions are not met, such as the lender's willingness to forgive the balance of the debt.

    You may have a limited time to act, so you should contact a real estate attorney in your area immediately. The attorney can review the contract and the facts of your situation and then explain your options. You might be able to force the buyer to convey the property to you, but the lender may not be obilgated to release the mortgage if that takes too long. You have a very complex situation that really requires some good legal advice.

    My comments are not intended to establish an attorney-client relationship, are not confidential, and are not intended to constitute legal advice. Proper legal advice can only be given by an attorney who agrees to represent you, who reviews the facts of your specific case, who does not have a conflict of interest preventing the representation, and who is licensed as an attorney in the state where the law applies.

    I hope this helps.

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